Climate Change Linked to Premature Births and Poor Infant Health

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Climate change is not typically something that energizes the so-called “Christian” right.

The single issue animating those who argue against women’s right to their own reproductive health is abortion.

But the climate crisis and anti-choice activists’ cries of “right to life” actually have something in common.

Recent studies published in a find a rapidly warming environment is associated with .

Scientists also link global heating with babies’ , which can cause life-long health problems, and .

One of the study’s editors, Prof. Gregory Wellenius, :

“From the very beginning, from preconception, through early childhood into adolescence, we’re starting to see important impacts of climate hazards on health. This is a problem that affects everybody, everywhere. These extreme events are going to become even more likely and more severe with continued climate change [and this research shows] why they’re important to us, not in the future, but today.”

University of Sydney, Australia researcher Edward Jegasothy :

“The risk of [premature] birth is likely to increase with the expected increase in global temperatures and heatwaves-this is a potentially serious concern.”

On the rise is a rare condition known as “,” which, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is “a birth defect that occurs when a baby’s intestines extend outside of the body through a hole next to the belly button.”

Normally only about 2,00 cases a year, doctors are reporting , believed to be linked to mothers living within 15 miles .

, Assistant Professor in California State University’s Public Health Department, :

“Human exposure to wildfires is anticipated to increase in coming decades. Therefore, a thorough understanding of the negative health outcomes associated with wildfires is critical.”

One that analyzed 200,000 births in Harris County, Texas from 2007–2011, the state’s hottest summer on record, revealed 25 percent of expecting mothers exposed to at least one exceptionally hot day faced a the following day.

The numbers and for 20 percent of economically disadvantaged mothers.

University of California, Los Angeles researcher Lara Cushing :

“Public health warnings during heatwaves should include pregnant people, especially given our finding of stronger associations earlier in gestation when the consequences of preterm birth are more severe.”

With a US Supreme Court on the apparent cusp of 1973’s case that legalized abortion, we now must factor in the role the climate crisis plays in reproductive health inequities.

Climate change-fueled disasters disproportionally affect the economically disadvantaged as does anti-choice legislation, such as those and other republican-led states are passing.

Outlawing abortion once again will not prevent abortions.

It will only criminalize it for the poor.

Women of means will have no problem traveling across state lines to receive abortions or other reproductive care anti-choice states prohibit.

Similarly, those of means can afford to escape the climate crisis’s ravages.

Originally published at on January 26, 2022.

Ted Millar is a teacher, poet, and political writer for Liberal America and the Left Place blog on Substack: https://theleftplace.substack.com/.

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Ted Millar

Ted Millar

Ted Millar is a teacher, poet, and political writer for Liberal America and the Left Place blog on Substack: .

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